PACKHEM, Judith “Judy” (Santilli), 60, of North Kingstown, peacefully passed away surrounded by her loving family on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 after a hard-fought battle against cancer. She was the beloved wife of Edward J. Packhem for over 31 years. Judy was an incomparable, generous woman who left her mark on everyone she met. She was fun-loving and brought an unparalleled passion to everything she did.
Judy was born on August 13, 1960 in Providence, Rhode Island to Pasco and Rita (Beaulieu) Santilli. She grew up with her two sisters, Debra Santilli and Patricia Paolucci, and brother, Mark Santilli. The "Fab 4" were very close and enjoyed doing everything together, including all graduating from the University of Rhode Island.
Judy married Ed on July 9, 1989. They shared many adventures over the years from SCUBA diving all over the world to renovating their 1890s colonial home. Their biggest adventure was raising their two children, Gregory and Alyson Packhem. Judy was one of those moms who would always go the extra mile for her family. She planned scavenger hunt birthday parties, stayed up late building paper mache dinosaurs the night before they were due, and attended every wrestling match, field hockey game, band concert, and countless other events - all while teaching full-time and working a second job as a dance instructor. Judy was so proud of her two children. Greg graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2013 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering; he currently co-owns and works for Houston Renovators, renovating homes in the Houston Area. Aly graduated from the University of New Hampshire with her BS and MS in Environmental Engineering in 2014/2016; she currently works as a Project Engineer for the Town of Westerly. In 2017, Judy & Ed moved into their dream home in Florida; Judy loved escaping the cold Rhode Island winters and embraced the Florida heat by playing pickleball and golf year-round.
Judy was blessed with a large, close-knit extended family who shared dinner every Sunday. Anyone who has attended a Santilli Family Sunday Dinner can see where Judy gets her warm energy (and volume). Judy shared fun times with an abundance of laughter around the family dinner table and on frequent trips to Block Island, Cape Cod, and New Hampshire.
Judy had the heart of a teacher and changed the lives of countless students. She taught in the West Warwick School Department for many years and obtained her master’s degree in Reading and Literacy, National Board Certification, Dyslexia Therapist Certification, and Orton-Gillingham Certification all while teaching full-time. Judy put her heart into her teaching and loved watching her students grow. One of her most fulfilling accomplishments was establishing her reading and dyslexia tutoring business, Shaping Readers, which she started in 2017 following her retirement. While she loved her years in the classroom, there was something special to Judy about helping children struggling to read, often due to a disability, reach their potential; she often spoke of how she had “found her calling.”
Judy lived life to the fullest and had many interests and hobbies. She was an accomplished dancer and instructor at her mother’s studio, the Rita Beaulieu Dance & Performing Arts Center for many years. Judy choreographed award-winning routines and directed performances in Disney World and on the Royal Caribbean cruise line. While she was a stickler for a sickled foot, she was adored by her students and brought fun and laughter to the studio. Judy loved gardening and spent many summer days with her hands in the dirt or volunteering with the URI Master Gardeners. Judy was also talented at sewing and created dozens of halloween costumes, window treatments for everyone in the family’s homes, and a cover for the family boat for overnight trips.
In August 2019, Judy received the devastating news that she had differentiated chondrosarcoma, a rare and aggressive type of cancer, in her hip. She endured months of chemotherapy, blood transfusions, dozens of outpatient procedures, countless doctors visits, and a hemipelvectomy in January 2020 which removed half of her pelvis, along with the cancerous tumor, and replaced it with titanium. Judy pushed through months of rehabilitation following the surgery and was back on her feet and digging in the garden by the summer time. Unfortunately, her cancer was too aggressive and no treatment could slow it down. Judy passed away peacefully in her sleep with her family by her side.
Visitation will be held, while observing Social Distance Guidelines, Saturday, January 9, 2021 from 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM in the Iannotti Funeral Home at MAPLE ROOT, 2000 Nooseneck Hill Road (RTE 3), Coventry. Mass of Christian Burial at 11:30 AM in St. Francis de Sales Church, 381 School Street, North Kingstown, RI. Burial at St. Joseph’s Cemetery, West Warwick, will be private.
Because travel restrictions may limit attendance, we will have a celebration of Judy’s life in the summer when gatherings are allowed.
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations be made in Judy’s honor to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Judy had a very rare and quick acting sarcoma that took her life far too soon. Because sarcomas are so rare, research and treatments are limited. The family would appreciate the donations to Dana Farber be specifically allocated to the “Sarcoma and Bone Cancer” fund (select under “Direct my Gift to the Following Area”). For more information see dana-farber.org or donate directly at https://danafarber.jimmyfund.org/site/Donation2?df_id=2100&mfc_pref=T&2100.donation=form1.
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